Breaking Down The Language Barrier: Creating a Place of Comfort and Trust
While the pandemic put a dent on travel due to restrictions, the number of people forced to leave their home due to conflict, persecution, grinding poverty, and climate emergencies has risen to record highs. In 2021, immigrants and refugees coming to the United States arrived from over fifty countries, with the vast majority coming from the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Syria, Afghanistan, Ukraine, and Myanmar, Sudan, Iraq, El Salvador, Eritrea, Iran, Somalia, Pakistan, Bhutan and the Democratic Republic of the Congo amongst other countries.
Immigrants and refugees arrive in the United States with no funds, no network of support, and lack the language and cultural knowledge to successfully navigate a new place. While state and local programs such as Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF), along with community-based efforts play a critical role in helping these individuals get to a place of self-sufficiency and be more confident in their new lives, the language barrier can be great and derail the best of efforts.
TuaPath’s technology solution prioritizes the voices of immigrant and refugee families by allowing the participant to engage with the program in their preferred language.
Participants are able to problem solve and communicate their thoughts and ideas effectively in their own language. The resulting increased level of trust and comfort helps to improve the quality of collaboration and problem solving to achieve greater employment and self-sufficiency outcomes.
How does TuaPath help to break down the language barrier?
Based on the participant browser’s language settings information presented through the software interface is presented in that language (Arabic, Pashto, Spanish, etc.) to the user which includes the login, dashboard, instructions, online forms, goal setting, resources, time tracking, notifications and more.
While case managers may still need to explain the task at hand or paperwork requirement, when it comes time to complete the task, the instructions, and the form itself is in the participant’s language. With the information displayed in their language, participants have more confidence in completing the task and communicating with accuracy.
Participants are also able to enter information into TuaPath in their preferred language which furthers TuaPath ease of use, removes language as a barrier to progress, helping to create a more comfortable and accommodating process that ultimately results in a positive outcome.
In working with one of our Michigan Works! agency customers to pilot the Multiple Language functionality, we learned that most of the case managers are able to converse with the immigrant and refugee population in their native or preferred language, but they are not necessarily proficient in reading and writing it.
To address this issue, TuaPath leverages Microsoft’s Translator service to translate what was entered by the participant into English or the primary language set for the site and displays the results side-by-side the actual entry. The case manager sees exactly what was enter by the participant and the translation, so if there are any discrepancies, everyone can see what was entered and if needed, make the necessary changes.
Instead of often having to communicate several times information concerning policies due to the language barrier, participants can view the information as often as needed in their preferred language, saving case managers value time, time they can better spend helping families get the services needed.
It’s true, language can separate people or bring them together. We believe that language equals comfort and comfort equals success and TuaPath is a critical component in helping immigrant and refugee families engage with your programs and their case managers, building trust and comfort in their ability to navigate our culture and its requirements, and in achieving their self-sufficiency goals so they can thrive in the communities where they live.